Anchor Brewing, America's First Craft Brewery, Is Closing

We've got some disappointing news for fans of craft beer: Anchor Brewing, America's first-ever craft brewery is closing. According to a press release, Anchor Brewing has been in business for a whopping 127 years, having opened its doors way back in 1896 in San Francisco. The business nearly closed one other time in 1965 but was ultimately bought by Fritz Maytag and remained in business.

Anchor Brewing is being forced to close due to financial issues and a decline in sales since 2016. In June, Anchor had to cease its national distribution and instead limit selling to just California, hinting at the financial problems that have now led to the news of it closing. Speaking on how it may be impacting Maytag, who was responsible for saving the business once, Harry Schuhmacher, the publisher of Craft Business Daily said in a statement, "I know Fritz must be heartbroken. He literally nurtured that brewery from insolvency in the 60s to becoming San Francisco's hometown beer and symbolic of America's craft beer resurgence." 

The business has stopped all brewing but will continue to sell the remaining beer through the rest of July. All 61 employees have been given a 60-day notice and will receive separation packages.

Ceasing operations due to decline in sales and distribution

Anchor Brewing saw more problems arise in 2017 on account of Sapporo (the Japanese beer brand) buying the company. It was revealed that employees found Sapporo's management to be inadequate and that it was Sapporo's decision to discontinue the brewery's popular Christmas ale, which had been on the market every Christmas season for 50 years. Sapporo was allegedly also the reasoning behind the scaled back distribution.

Sapporo has attempted to sell Anchor over the last few years to no avail. Additionally, the craft brewing industry has faced overall declines over the past few years due to rising costs and changes in consumer habits.

In a statement, Brian Crawford, the CEO of the Beer Institute, addressed the state of the industry, saying, "[Anchor's closure] highlights the sustained economic headwinds [of craft brewing] ... Between unnecessary and harmful tariffs imposed on aluminum, to continued supply chain disruptions, to dubious tax loopholes for hard liquor products, the beer industry faces significant challenges."